What to Wear to the Calgary Stampede

by CiCi
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The Calgary Stampede, often referred to as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth,” is a celebration of Western heritage, culture, and community spirit. Held annually in Calgary, Alberta, this iconic event attracts visitors from around the world who come to experience rodeo competitions, chuckwagon races, agricultural exhibits, live music, and more. Central to the Stampede experience is Western fashion, characterized by cowboy hats, boots, denim, and plaid shirts. This article explores what to wear to the Calgary Stampede, offering insights into Western attire, practical tips, and style suggestions to ensure you look and feel your best at this legendary event.

Understanding Western Fashion at the Calgary Stampede

Western fashion at the Calgary Stampede is rooted in practicality, tradition, and a nod to the rugged lifestyle of cowboys and cowgirls. Whether you’re attending as a spectator, participant, or enthusiast, embracing Western attire adds to the festive atmosphere and pays homage to the event’s rich heritage.


1. Cowboy Hats

The cowboy hat is perhaps the most iconic piece of Western attire and a staple at the Calgary Stampede. Traditionally made of felt or straw, cowboy hats are not just for fashion but also serve a practical purpose, providing shade from the sun and protection from the elements. When choosing a cowboy hat, consider the fit and style that best suits your preferences. Classic styles include the wide-brimmed Stetson, which comes in various colors and materials. Opt for neutral tones like black, brown, or tan to complement your outfit.


2. Boots

Cowboy boots are another essential component of Western fashion at the Calgary Stampede. These boots are designed for comfort and durability, featuring a pointed toe, stacked heel, and decorative stitching. Choose leather boots for authenticity and longevity, ensuring they are comfortable enough for walking and standing for extended periods. Western boots come in a range of colors and styles, from traditional brown or black to exotic skins like ostrich or snake. Pair your boots with bootcut jeans or denim shorts for a classic Western look.

3. Denim

Denim is a versatile and practical choice for Calgary Stampede attire, reflecting the rugged spirit of Western culture. Jeans are a wardrobe staple, providing durability and comfort during outdoor activities. Opt for well-fitted denim jeans or shorts in classic blue or darker washes, which are less likely to show dirt. Jeans with embellishments like embroidery or rhinestones add a touch of Western flair. For a more polished look, pair denim with a Western-style belt featuring a decorative buckle.

4. Plaid Shirts

Plaid shirts are synonymous with Western fashion and are widely worn at the Calgary Stampede. These shirts are both stylish and functional, offering comfort and versatility for various Stampede activities. Choose plaid shirts in bold colors like red, blue, or green, with checkered patterns that evoke a rustic charm. Wear shirts with pearl snap buttons for an authentic Western look, and consider layering with a lightweight vest or denim jacket for cooler evenings.

5. Western Dresses and Skirts

For women attending the Calgary Stampede, Western dresses and skirts offer a feminine and stylish option. Western dresses often feature details such as fringe, embroidery, or floral patterns inspired by prairie landscapes. Choose dresses in breathable fabrics like cotton or denim, with hemlines that allow for ease of movement. Pair dresses with Western-style boots or sandals for a comfortable yet fashionable ensemble. Western skirts in denim or suede are also popular, paired with a tucked-in blouse or a fitted Western shirt.

6. Accessories

Accessorizing is key to completing your Western Stampede outfit. Consider adding the following accessories to enhance your Western look:

  • Belt Buckles: Statement belt buckles are a hallmark of Western fashion. Choose a buckle with intricate designs or symbols that reflect Western heritage. Belt buckles can be personalized with initials, logos, or engraved designs, making them a meaningful addition to your outfit.
  • Bandanas: A bandana is a versatile accessory that adds a pop of color and Western flair. Wear it around your neck, tied as a headband, or tucked into a pocket for a practical touch.
  • Jewelry: Opt for silver or turquoise jewelry, which are popular in Western fashion. Pieces such as bolo ties, concho belts, cuff bracelets, and Native American-inspired necklaces complement Western attire and add a touch of authenticity.
  • Hats and Caps: In addition to cowboy hats, consider wearing Western-style caps or straw hats for a more casual look. These hats provide sun protection while maintaining the Western aesthetic.

7. Outerwear

Calgary weather can be unpredictable, so it’s essential to layer appropriately for the Stampede festivities. Pack a lightweight jacket, vest, or poncho in case of cooler temperatures or rain. Denim jackets with Western embellishments are a stylish choice, offering warmth without compromising on style. Opt for outerwear in neutral colors like denim blue, tan, or olive green to coordinate with your Western ensemble.

Style Tips for Men and Women

While Western fashion at the Calgary Stampede embraces tradition, there are plenty of opportunities to personalize your look and express your style. Here are some style tips for men and women attending the Stampede:

For Men:

  • Double Down on Denim: Embrace the rugged appeal of denim by pairing jeans with a denim shirt or jacket. Layer with a plaid shirt and accessorize with a statement belt buckle.
  • Go Bold with Boots: Choose cowboy boots in a standout color or exotic leather for a distinctive look. Polish your boots to maintain their shine and durability throughout the Stampede.
  • Mix and Match: Experiment with different textures and patterns, such as pairing a suede vest with denim jeans or adding a leather wristband for a rugged touch.

For Women:

  • Flaunt Floral Prints: Incorporate floral prints or feminine embroidery into your Western dresses or skirts for a romantic and whimsical vibe.
  • Layer with Lace: Add a lace blouse or camisole under a denim jacket for a delicate contrast to rugged denim or leather accessories.
  • Accessorize with Confidence: Don’t shy away from bold accessories like oversized earrings or a wide-brimmed hat adorned with feathers or beads.

Practical Considerations for Stampede Attire

When preparing your Stampede attire, consider these practical considerations to ensure comfort and enjoyment throughout the festivities:

1. Comfort and Mobility

Choose clothing and footwear that allow for ease of movement, especially if you plan to participate in activities like line dancing or exploring the Stampede grounds. Ensure your shoes are broken in and comfortable for walking on various terrains.

2. Weather Preparedness

Check the weather forecast for Calgary during the Stampede dates and pack accordingly. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun’s rays. Pack a lightweight jacket or poncho for sudden changes in weather.

3. Cultural Sensitivity

Respect Western traditions and Indigenous cultures when selecting attire for the Stampede. Avoid caricatures or stereotypes and instead embrace authentic Western fashion that pays homage to Canada’s rich heritage.

4. Sustainability and Tradition

Consider investing in quality pieces of Western attire that can be worn for future Stampede celebrations or other Western-themed events. Support local artisans and designers who specialize in Western fashion and craftsmanship.

See also: What’s The List Of Canadian Holidays 2024


Attending the Calgary Stampede is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in Western culture and celebrate Canada’s heritage with style. Whether you opt for classic denim and plaid or embellished cowboy boots and accessories, Western fashion at the Stampede allows you to express your individuality while honoring tradition. By choosing attire that is both practical and stylish, you can enjoy all the festivities, from rodeo competitions to live music, in comfort and confidence. Embrace the spirit of the West and create lasting memories at the Calgary Stampede with your authentic and fashionable Stampede attire.


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